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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

Science 4Fun, collaboration between CUT and UFS community engagement
2017-08-16

 Description: Community Enagement Tags: : Nzame Primary School, Charles Busack, Global University for Lifelong Learning, Community Engagement, Science4Fun  

For Grade R learners at Nzame Primary, their
basic Geometry insight about shapes advanced
to engineering skills when they built modern pyramids,
connecting jelly sweets and sosatie sticks. 
Photo: Supplied 


Any phase in a learner’s life can be the right time to explore science. As for Grade R learners at Nzame Primary School in Mangaung, it all started when their Deputy Principal, Charles Busack, attended the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) workshop coordinated by the university’s Community Engagement in October 2016. The GULL network enables its affiliated organisations to recognise the individual and collective efforts of those who are creating progressive transformation in communities and in the workplace. Consequently, a community-based initiative, Science4Fun, was developed and launched at the primary school, where learners would start to experiment with science through play.

University students instrumental in teaching
Every Tuesday morning, these fun science activities form part of the foundation phase programme, in which Dr Elizabeth Conradie of the Central University of Technology (CUT) and four postgraduate Science students from the UFS, engage teachers and learners in exciting experiments and demonstrations. 

Most people just know pyramids as big, impressive structures built a long time ago in Ancient Egypt. However, for Grade R learners at Nzame Primary, their basic Geometry insight about shapes advanced to engineering skills when they built modern pyramids, connecting jelly sweets and sosatie sticks.

Laying a foundation for the future
According to Dr Conradie, more fun exercises are lined up for curious minds, exploring other sciences such as Chemistry and Mathematics, combined with music. The initiative will assist to equip learners with the basics of Science into more advance learning phases of the schooling years, giving them an advantage.

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